Read Maxims and Reflections (Penguin Classics) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Free Online
Book Title: Maxims and Reflections (Penguin Classics)|
The author of the book: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Date of issue: August 27th 1998
ISBN 13: 9780140447200
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 312 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.3
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Thoughts and quips from Germany's most prolific polymath - 590 in all - plus a bonus section of wonderful reflections on Mother Nature. Also features critiques on writers from Kalidas to Shakespeare.
Very difficult to cull these faves :
9. Unqualified activity, of whatever kind, leads at last to bankruptcy.
12. Our plans and designs should be so perfect in truth and beauty, that in touching them the world could only mar. We should thus have the advantage of setting right what is wrong, and restoring what is destroyed.
17. In botany, one species of plants is termed "incompletæ." In the same way some men are incomplete and imperfect. Their desires and struggles are disproportional to their actions and achievements.
25. From all sides he is threatened by the spirit of the day, and nothing is more necessary than to make him see early enough the direction in which his will has to steer.
30. If I am to listen to another man's opinion, it must be expressed positively. Of things problematical I have enough in myself.
33. Everything that frees our spirit without giving us control of ourselves is ruinous.
65. Generosity wins favor from everyone, especially when accompanied by modesty.
81. What a man does not understand, he does not possess.
108. It is as certain as it is strange that truth and error come from one and the same source. Thus we're not free to do violence to error, because at the same time we violate truth.
147. The masses cannot dispense with men of ability, and such men are always a burden to them.
152. Ingratitude is always a kind of weakness. I have never known men of ability to be ungrateful.
209. Despotism promotes general self-government, because from top to bottom it makes the individual responsible, and so produces the highest degree of activity.
211. Enthusiasm is of the greatest value, so long as we are not carried away by it.
222. There is no use in reproving vulgarity, for it never changes.
239. To live in a great idea means to treat the impossible as though it were possible. It is just the same with a strong character; and when an idea and a character meet, things arise which fill the world with wonder for thousands of years.
249. In the world people take a man at his own estimate, but he must estimate himself at something. Disagreeableness is more easily tolerated than insignificance.
264. A man's manners are the mirror in which he shows his portrait.
276. Fools and wise folk are alike harmless. It is the half-wise, and the half-foolish, who are the most dangerous.
278. Difficulties increase the nearer we come to our aim.
291. By nothing do men show their character more than by the things they laugh at.
300. Passions are good or bad qualities, only intensified.
309. The real scholar learns how to evolve the unknown from the known, and draws near the master.
319. Where I cannot be moral, my power is gone.
323. To praise a man is to put oneself on his level.
330. The greatest difficulties lie where we do not look for them.
332. Nothing is more highly to be prized than the value of each day.
335. If a man lives long in a high position, it's true he does not experience all that a man can experience... but he experiences things like them, and perhaps some things that have no parallel elsewhere.
358. "I stumbled over the roots of the tree which I planted."... said a very, very old forester.
375. It does not look well for monarchs to speak through the press, for power should act and not talk.
389. The public must be treated like women: they must be told absolutely nothing except what they like to hear.
414. A man who has no acquaintance with foreign languages knows nothing of his own.
415. We must remember that there are many men who, without being productive, are anxious to say something important, and the results are most curious.
417. Some books seem to have been written not to teach us anything, but to let us know that the author has known something.
461. If one has not read newspapers for some months, but then suddenly reads them all, one sees - as one never saw before - how much time is wasted with this literature type.
467. What a day it is when we must envy the men in their graves!
481. The Beautiful is a manifestation of secret natural laws, which, without its presence, would never have been revealed.
489. Nothing is more frightful than imagination without taste.
532. Ignorant people raise questions which were answered by the wise thousands of years ago.
566. There is nothing more odious than the majority; it consists of a few powerful leading men, accommodating rascals, submissive weaklings, and the masses who trot after them without knowing their own mind in the least.
571. If a man devotes himself to the promotion of science, he is first opposed, and then informed that his ground is already occupied. Men first value nothing we tell them, and then they behave as if they knew it all themselves.
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Read information about the authorJohann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer. George Eliot called him "Germany's greatest man of letters... and the last true polymath to walk the earth." Goethe's works span the fields of poetry, drama, literature, theology, humanism, and science. Goethe's magnum opus, lauded as one of the peaks of world literature, is the two-part drama Faust. Goethe's other well-known literary works include his numerous poems, the Bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and the epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther.
Goethe was one of the key figures of German literature and the movement of Weimar Classicism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; this movement coincides with Enlightenment, Sentimentality (Empfindsamkeit), Sturm und Drang, and Romanticism. The author of the scientific text Theory of Colours, he influenced Darwin with his focus on plant morphology. He also long served as the Privy Councilor ("Geheimrat") of the duchy of Weimar.
Goethe is the originator of the concept of Weltliteratur ("world literature"), having taken great interest in the literatures of England, France, Italy, classical Greece, Persia, Arabic literature, amongst others. His influence on German philosophy is virtually immeasurable, having major impact especially on the generation of Hegel and Schelling, although Goethe himself expressly and decidedly refrained from practicing philosophy in the rarefied sense.
Goethe's influence spread across Europe, and for the next century his works were a major source of inspiration in music, drama, poetry and philosophy. Goethe is considered by many to be the most important writer in the German language and one of the most important thinkers in Western culture as well. Early in his career, however, he wondered whether painting might not be his true vocation; late in his life, he expressed the expectation that he would ultimately be remembered above all for his work in optics.
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